One out of three Danes participate in volunteer work – The Post

One out of three Danes participate in volunteer work

If you thought a little work and lots of play made Jens a selfish boy, then think again!

Wefood were among the organisations in recruitment mode at the 2017 Volunteers Festival at International House CPH (photo: Alessandra Palmitesta)
August 5th, 2019 2:50 pm| by Ester Rose

To paraphrase that fella in ‘The Shining’, a little work and lots of play makes Jens a dull boy.

After all, it is often remarked how most Danes leave the office punctually at 16:00 every day to speed back home for hygge with their families.

But according to new figures from Danmarks Statistik, the good citizens of Denmark are filling their lives with lots of other worthwhile activities, as one in three of them volunteer.

Legislation that landed
In 2017, the government brought in new legislation to enable unemployment and early retirement benefit recipients to undertake more unpaid volunteer work, and it would appear the change in law is really paying off.

Previously both groups were only allowed to undertake four hours a week, but this was raised to 10 and 15 hours respectively. Other changes, which included setting out a broader definition of what constitutes a volunteer organisation, were also made.

More social volunteering in the cities
Curiously, the areas in which Danes choose to volunteer are not evenly dispersed – both geographically and by gender.

For example, in the area of sports, 36 and 31 percent of the populations in Southern Denmark and Central Jutland volunteer, compared to 18 percent in the Capital Region and a national average of 27 percent.

Copenhageners, however, are the most likely to dedicate their time to social causes such as helping out in marginalised neighbourhoods, with 17 percent doing so, just ahead of North Jutland (15) – the region where both Aarhus and Aalborg are located. While the national average was 13 percent, in Zealand the figure was just 9 percent.

While the proportion of men and women who volunteer is nearly the same,  more men than women choose sports (33 vs 22 percent), while more women than men choose social causes (16 vs 9) and school and institution-related volunteering (12 vs 7).

Some 79 percent of all volunteers work in a single focus area, with 15 percent active in two areas and 6 percent active in more than two.

Volunteers: most likely / least likely


The typical Dane who volunteers is:

65-74 years of age (41 percent)

highly-educated (38 percent)

from a thinly-populated area (35 percent)

from South Denmark (36 percent) or Mid Jutland (35 percent)

The typical Dane who does not volunteer is:

25-35 (28 percent) or 16-34 (29 percent)

from Copenhagen (29 percent)

somebody who stopped studies after school or gymnasium

Source:  Kulturvaneundersøgelsen 1. kv. 2019